Talk has swirled around the potential moves the Golden State Warriors could make this offseason, or early next season, to retool their roster for another run to the NBA Finals.
Chief among those discussions has been what the Warriors might be able to spin rookie James Wiseman into in the name of building a “win now” roster for their aging trio of superstars.
Golden State owner Joe Lacob on Monday, June 21, spoke to the Wiseman trade rumors and the likelihood that any of them might actually come off.
“Very unlikely,” Lacob said of a possible Wiseman trade while speaking on The TK Show podcast with Tim Kawakami, of The Athletic. “It would take a lot to make me and (President of Basketball Operations) Bob (Myers) think about doing anything like that. People who talk like that — they don’t understand the cap (and) they don’t understand the economics of the NBA.”
“We need young players under good contracts to intersperse with what is already the highest payroll in the history of the NBA,” the Warriors owner continued. “You just can’t keep adding the luxury tax (and) the repeater (tax). It’s not possible. It’s just not possible. … We have to sort of try to bridge a gap between now and the future.”
The Future is Now For the Golden State WarriorsTalking about the future could well be a smokescreen Lacob is employing to keep Wiseman’s trade value high, making other NBA franchises believe the Warriors are all but entirely set on keeping him.
The 2nd overall pick from the 2020 draft showed moments of great promise throughout the course of the season, but he also proved correct several assessments that indicated Wiseman is a raw project with years of development ahead of him before reaching his maximum potential.
Exiting his rookie season early with a knee injury did not help Wiseman’s market value, though it is unlikely the meniscus tear he suffered will significantly hurt it either. Wiseman is currently considered a young player with great upside who impressed his coaches with a strong work ethic and an uncommon level of natural talent while he was on the court this season.
And while Wiseman could eventually become a member of the league’s elite class of highly-skilled and versatile big men, the timeline for him to reach his ceiling appears more and more likely that it won’t match up with the timeline of the Warriors’ big three — namely the window in which they are still viable NBA Championship contenders.
Warriors Need to at Least Consider Trading Wiseman
Salary cap be damned, the prudent course of action for the Warriors still appears to be an attempt to max out their potential to win while Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green remain near the primes of their careers.
All three are on the wrong side of 30 and after two seasons in relative NBA purgatory due to injury, they have all expressed confidence they can return to the form that helped lead them to five straight NBA Finals appearances and three titles.
“We fought through a lot of adversity this season, and it will pay dividends next season when we make another run at it,” Thompson wrote on Instagram following the end of the Warriors’ season on May 21, 2021. “We ain’t done, I promise you that.”
Flipping Wiseman, and/or a potential top 10 pick Golden State may receive from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the upcoming NBA Draft, for a “win now” star or superstar player like Bradley Beal might hurt the Warriors financially. It would certainly damage their prospects of success five and 10 years from now, when Curry, Thompson and Green will presumably be retired and pursuing other ventures.
However, moving Wiseman may also be the best chance to keep the superstars Golden State already employs happy, as well as add another banner or two to the rafters at the Chase Center. In that scenario, dealing Wiseman —and incurring all the costs that might entail — may well be worth the price the Warriors would pay, both in terms of the tax this season and roster depth in seasons to come.